With proper and adequate investment, the country could turn camel milk into a top foreign exchange earner.
The Kenya Camel Association says that for a long time the camel milk industry has been undervalued but could easily rival the other foreign exchanger spinners.
Speaking during a virtual meeting on World Milk Day, June 1, Dr James Chomba Njanja, vice-chairperson of the association noted that Kenya could do better in camel rearing, especially in the southern part of the country due to its arid and semi-arid nature.
Source of income
Dr Ilse Köhler-Rollefson, project coordinator of the League for Pastoral Peoples, said that camel farming should be viewed as an avenue for fighting the rampant poverty among pastoralist communities.
“Supporting decentralised camel farming through innovative models is a great opportunity to reduce poverty and to better food security in some of the poorest parts of the world,” he said.
Power of information
Kenyan camel farmers also appreciate the change of attitude towards camel products by many people across the world, which they believe can help to turn around their fortunes.
Mr John Perrett and Mrs Amanda Perrett are camel safari operators and farmers in Kenya, who noted that proper information on camel farming and products could help turn the tide towards the sub-sector.
“So many people are prejudiced towards camels and their products due to ignorance. It is encouraging to see the world begin to appreciate the many benefits that these gentle, mystical ‘giants’ are providing us with, especially through their milk,” the couple said.
According to the camel experts who attended the meeting, scientific research is key to extended camel rearing in Africa.
Prof Mohammed Bengoumi, a Tunisia-based FAO camel expert, said: “There is so much tradition and long-term use across the world, but we need more scientific research on camels, in general, and especially on milk.”
Some regions in Africa are slowly switching to camel rearing in places where they never were before.
Uganda and Tanzania are some of the countries that have embraced camel rearing.
Camels can survive the harshest conditions, including hot deserts. They are seen as the only diversification option for farmers along the Equator in Kenya and Australia, who are battling climatic change challenges.
Dr Abdul RaziqKakar, a UAE-based camel dairy specialist from Pakistan, said: “The camel saved humans for generations in the desert. In arid areas and hot weather over 45 degrees centigrade, cows suffer, as they need eight to 10 times more water than camels to produce a litre of milk.”
According to the UN Food and Agriculture Authority (FAO), camels have remained the second fastest growing herbivorous livestock in the world after buffaloes.
For the past 10 years, Africa has registered a 4.5 per cent growth in the number of camels.